South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday February 25, 2020

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January 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 7




Broward Health Advances Cancer Care with Multiprong Approach

Each year, nearly two million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As one of the largest public healthcare systems in the United States, Broward Health is committed to enhancing detection and treatment of cancer through robotics, transplants and clinical studies.

“When it comes to providing passionate, skilled and advanced cancer care, Broward Health is in many ways leading the charge,” said Mark Sprada, vice president of strategy and clinical operations. “Our dedicated team offers an individualized, comprehensive and holistic approach to cancer treatment.” 
Robotics Progress Treatment of Head and Neck Cancers
Under the direction of Ryan H. Sobel, M.D., a fellowship trained head and neck surgeon, Broward Health offers one of South Florida’s only comprehensive and robotics-integrated programs for the treatment of cancers of the head and neck. Sobel’s personal commitment to providing individualized, minimally invasive treatment plans for each of his patients is coordinated by a care team that includes physicians and rehabilitation specialists with expertise in all types of head and neck cancers.
“The multidisciplinary team-based approach allows us to provide patients the specialized care they need and deserve,” said Sobel, who is part of the Broward Health Physician Group.
Head and neck cancer is often tough to detect and treat if not caught early. Most head and neck cancers begin in the cells that line the moist surfaces inside the mouth and throat. Other types include tumors of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, salivary glands, as well as skin cancers, such as melanoma. Masses or lumps in the neck that persist for more than two weeks should be evaluated by a head and neck surgeon.
“Through the technique of trans oral robotic surgery, we’re able to access and remove hard-to-reach cancerous tumors of the throat,” Sobel said. “This approach often results in excellent oncologic outcomes with fewer long-term side effects than traditional treatment. Working closely with the members of our team, our patients frequently regain function more quickly, enabling a return of their original quality of life.”
How Transplant Treats Liver Cancer
Liver transplant is an option for patients facing end-stage liver disease, including patients who have cancerous tumors of the liver or bile duct. Treatment is determined by the liver cancer’s type and stage.
Cosme Manzarbeitia, M.D., directs the transplant program based at Broward Health Medical Center. He specializes in hepatobiliary and abdominal transplant surgery, multi-organ transplantation, and liver and kidney transplant.
“When it comes to liver transplants, Broward Health’s results have been well documented,” said Manzarbeitia, who is part of the Broward Health Physician Group. “Broward Health Medical Center is one of only 10 hospitals in the United States — and the only hospital in Florida — to receive a maximum score of five points in the outcome assessment for liver transplants by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.”
The liver transplant center offers adults with severe liver disease the expertise of a multidisciplinary team that includes hematologists, gastroenterologists and liver transplant surgeons, as well as social workers and mental health professionals.
“We offer big medicine in a family environment,” Manzarbeitia added. “You don’t need to travel far to get high quality care with optimal results.”
Clinical Trials Breaking Cancer Care Barriers
The third prong of Broward Health’s providing solutions to cancer rests with clinical trials. Many of the system’s physicians partner with universities and hospitals across the U.S. to further cancer research.
“By participating in clinical trials, Broward Health is better positioned to help our large and diverse patient population,” said Mehmet Hepgur, M.D. “Through the clinical studies, we have the opportunity to uncover new treatments and additional options that may improve patient outcomes.”
Hepgur, a hematologist/oncologist with the Broward Health Physician Group, serves as the principal investigator on a handful of studies, including one focused on treating head and neck cancer with immunotherapy. The clinical trial launched in December 2019 and is part of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group.
The trial looks at patients who had cancer and have relapsed. One group is treated with standard chemotherapy and observed for 12 months. The second group receives chemotherapy followed by monthly immunotherapy for a year, which Hepgur said is helping to “find out if the immunotherapy will slow or stop the growth of cancer.”
There are 27 clinical trials being led or supported by Broward Health doctors, including a trial with the University of Arizona on the quality of life experienced by cancer survivors. Gone are “one-size-fits-all treatments,” said Hepgur. “The data shows that patients benefit from individualized care.”
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